Preparing to care for someone with dementia

No one is born with the skills of communicating with someone who has dementia so when your loved one has dementia, it’s not unusual to feel as though you’re absolutely useless and unequipped to provide dementia homecare for them. Don’t worry, here are some tips and advice to help you deal with the situation better.

Understand the dementia diagnosis

The first step to providing the right care is to understand the diagnoses that your loved one has been given. Although there is no cure for the disease, you should research the signs and symptoms of dementia and what you might be able to do to slow down the process somewhat. Sites such as Dementia Action Alliance can provide you with a wide range of resources to help you better understand what your loved one is going through.

Have the right mindset

You need to remember that although a person with dementia is impaired, this does not mean that they’re not entitled to the same respect and dignity as they were before. Instead of dismissing them, you must learn how to engage with them in a way that will encourage their independence as much as possible. Although it can be difficult, you should always maintain a positive attitude as the person you’re caring for will be able to sense otherwise.

Learn how to communicate

Dementia can severely impair the way that someone communicates which can lead to frustrations and challenging behaviour. Communication must, therefore, be approached differently. Try some of these simple techniques:

•    Maintain eye contact
•    Speak slowly and calmly
•    Ask simple questions
•    Eliminate any distractions
•    Use touch
•    Encourage them to remember the past
•    Have a sense of humour

Listening patiently to a person with dementia is vital to understanding their needs and requirements. If it becomes challenging, try to reassure them that you’re there for them and that they are in a safe, caring environment.

Handling challenging behaviour can be incredibly tough, but by using patience, flexibility, compassion and creativity, you can try to accommodate the behaviour rather than controlling it. Remember that the person you’re caring for cannot change their illness, so it helps not to take things personally and maintain a calm, positive outlook.

Seek dementia homecare support

There are plenty of dementia homecare services available that can offer professional help and advice when you’re struggling to cope. You could also approach local support groups in your area that are often run by people who are experienced or have experienced, the same type of situation. You should never underestimate the power of family and friends to see you through a difficult time as caring for a loved one with dementia can also begin to affect your physical and mental wellbeing.

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